We continue to explore Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in relationship to the farmer’s perception. How do farmers and other outdoor entrepreneurs build trust with their suppliers? What does love and belonging look like to a farmer when doing business?

As with safety and security, we most often put these needs in the context of a 1 to 5 scale, (where 1 is completely transactional and 5 is a trusted, transparent relationship working for the success of the farming operation). Love and belonging would be a 3 on the scale, midway between a transaction and a trusted relationship.

We find that when evaluating their relationships with suppliers, about half of farmers give at least one supplier a 3. But the good news is that in the context of all business relationships, only about 25 percent of relationships are considered a 3.

What does love and belonging mean in the context of supplying farmers?

Probably the most important keys in developing a level-3 relationship are friendship and a sense of connection. Just like everyone else, farmers want to do business with people they consider friends – people who have an affinity for the business. Activities like customer appreciation days are one way to foster a sense of connection, but simple things like saying thank you for their business and being an attentive supplier are also ways to foster connections.

How Can You Move to Love and Belonging with Your Farmer Clients?

I often recommend that dealers provide education or news in groups. Why? Because it fosters a sense of connection among customers towards each other and towards your brand. If you’re an agribusiness that can share new knowledge through groups or facilitate peer-to-peer interaction and learning, you’re increasing the bond you have with those customers.

Communication is highly important toward driving your customer interactions higher on Maslow’s scale, but why should suppliers try to be higher on the scale?

It’s simple: The higher on the scale your customers are with you, the more committed they are to doing business with you.

Here’s the words of wisdom we get from farmers when asking how suppliers can improve their status as a trusted advisor.

“Make routine visits to our farm and provide ongoing communication with new ideas to help our business.”

We find that the largest share of farmers want to continually experiment to find new ways to achieve better results, while many retailers are focused on offering relatively similar solutions to all their customers. This approach, while somewhat practical, will rarely elevate the retailer into the realm of trusted advisor.

When you choose a market research partner, it’s important to select someone who knows the market, knows the people in it, and can help you obtain the insight you are looking for. Ask for a copy of our most recent white paper, Marketing to Young Farmers: Strategies that Work.

Using Millennium’s proprietary Empathic Method, we reveal the farmer’s decision-making process by taking their whole personal framework into account, not just one particular decision. The result is deeper insights, more meaningful marketing messages, and faster sales growth.